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UNH Goes to Hollywood
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Barbara Stoll
David Zaitz

MOXIE AND CONNECTIONS: Barbara Stoll '74 didn't wait to be discovered. She was majoring in child development at UNH with a minor in communications when she had a brainstorm about how to combine her two passions. On impulse, she called Children's Television Workshop, the producers of "Sesame Street," to see if they had summer jobs. To her astonishment, they offered her an internship, and she spent a summer in New York showing newly developed segments of the show to children in Head Start programs in Harlem. The experience cemented her ambition to go into television. "I think all of us out here [in Hollywood] are driven," she says. "We decide what we want and then we go for it."

In Stoll's case, "going for it" included moving to Los Angeles and enrolling in the Master of Fine Arts in film program at UCLA, where her moxie once again landed her a job. "The night before my graduation, I met a woman at a party who said, 'What are you doing?' I told her, and she said, 'I have an opening for a unit manager position—are you interested?'"

Stoll jumped at the chance to work at MetroMedia's television production studios. But if moxie opened the first few doors, relationships opened many more. A producer she met at MetroMedia offered her a job on the ABC show "Amanda's by the Sea." Later, she met "Roseanne" producer Al Lowenstein, under whose mentorship she rose from associate producer to co-producer to line producer over eight seasons. Most recently, she was thrilled to be part of Mike O'Malley's latest sitcom, "Welcome to the Family," and calls the show's cancellation tough. "It was a really terrific working situation," she says.

She's already moved on, though. In January, she produced a pilot for CBS called "The McCarthys," and she's working on another, "Fifth Wheel," for NBC.

Barbara Stoll
David Zaitz

A FAMILY AFFAIR: Xochi Blymyer '84 never thought her college math major would help her land a Hollywood job, but when the assistant director on the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Red Heat needed someone who could figure out the first generation of computerized scheduling software, Blymyer—and her computer skills—were just what he was after.

Now a first assistant director herself, Blymyer says her math background is still a central part of her work. Her role is essentially that of a general contractor, figuring out each day's shooting schedule based on actor availability, crew overtime, location availability, equipment, weather, and a million other details. On the set, she translates the director's instructions into tasks for the actors and crew. "Math helps when you're trying to solve problems or put pieces together," she says. "It's a good background for what I have to do."

Blymyer grew up in the movie industry, skipping from one school on an Indian reservation to another in the Bahamas because her parents—her dad was a gaffer and her mother was a hairdresser to the stars—were on location. When they bought an inn in the White Mountains, she decided to go to UNH and major in math, "simply because I was good at it." The math didn't work out for her parents, however, who discovered that running a an inn was not a money-making proposition and soon returned to show biz.

After "Welcome to the Family" ended, Blymyer was welcomed back at "The Fosters," where she had worked previously. She loves her job, but, like her parents, she isn't crazy about having to go out and hustle the next gig, over and over again. "You never get used to a job ending and not knowing where your next one is coming from," she says. "I don't think my parents ever got used to it. My dad always swore that each job was his last and no one was ever going to call him again—and he's worked for 45 years." ~

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